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Avonte Oquendo News: Autistic Boy's Remains Found; DNA Test Confirms Identity

First Posted: Jan 21, 2014 05:36 PM EST
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A DNA test has confirmed that the body parts found on a beach in Queens, New York were the remains of teenager Avonte Oquendo.

Oquendo, who was autistic and nonverbal, went missing on Oct. 4 when he was leaving school in Long Island City, New York. The family plans to sue the city because of the fact that he was supposed to be under supervision at the time he went missing.

An all-out, citywide search followed and signs were posted throughout the entire New York City metro region and beyond. Because Avonte was fascinated with trains, every single subway station in New York City was searched -- to no avail. The police even played Avonte's mother's voice extremely loud throughout the city with hopes that the teen would recognize the sound since he rarely responded to anyone except his mother.

It was not until just last week when his remains were found in the water in Queens. A boy discovered parts of Oquendo's body and his mother proceeded to alert the police. Although many people suspected that it was likely Avonte's body, the tests were not confirmed until this week.

"This is depressing, very depressing," community advocate Tony Herbert said, according to The New York Daily News. "Everybody was so hopeful that it wasn't him, but I guess we all kind of figured it would be. This is not good." 

Herbert also said that Avonte's mother was maintaining hope throughout the course of the months-long search.

"She stood by her word, 'It isn't Avonte until its Avonte,'" he said. "Hopefully this will get them some closure. A lot of energy went into making sure he was OK. I feel bad for them right now."

The official cause of death is yet to be announced and the medical examiner's office is looking into it further.

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